One of the laws of the road in California and the United States as a whole dictates the speed and manner in which a person can drive. Drivers are required to be aware and not distracted while behind the wheel, drive within the posted speed limit and operate their vehicles in a safe, responsible manner. However, not every driver abides by the rules of the road and may drive in a way that can put other drivers, passengers and pedestrians in danger. In some instances, that can lead to a driver being pulled over and ticketed for reckless driving.
Reckless Driving in California
As per the California Vehicle Code Section 23103, drivers may not operate a vehicle on a public road or parking area with willful or wanton disregard for property or the safety of other people. In other words, “willful or wanton disregard” means driving a vehicle in a purposely reckless manner that puts other people and property in danger.
In the state of California, reckless driving is usually a charge given to someone along with another charge, such as driving under the influence (DUI). In general, simply speeding is not enough to warrant a driver being charged with reckless driving. An example of reckless driving is a person being in a hurry to make it on time to a business meeting deliberately running all stop signs he encounters, even if he does not get into an accident with another vehicle or pedestrian.
A reckless driving charge can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license. As per Vehicle Code Section 23103, you may also receive a fine ranging anywhere from $40 to $1,000, which can certainly hurt your wallet. Other negative things can occur when a driver’s license is suspended, such as permanent marks on your driving record and your auto insurance rates increasing. Fortunately, there are certain things that can lead to an avoidance of license suspension, even if you have received a charge of reckless driving. The following situations can result in a ticket being obliterated:
- Obstruction of Traffic Signs: If a traffic sign was obscured at the time of the incident, such as the sign being partially hidden due to a fallen tree branch or if the sign was down altogether, the defense attorney can mention that in court.
- Officer Absence: If the police officer who issued the ticket for reckless driving doesn’t show up at court on the trial date, the case is automatically tossed out.
- Conditions: Police officers are required to note the conditions of stopping a driver in the first place. As a result, even seemingly minor conditions, such as the exact location of the traffic stop, the weather, the color of your shirt and more may come into play at the trial. If the officer is questioned about any of these conditions and gives wrong answers, this can work in your favor and make the ticket issued to you invalid.
- Necessity of Speed Defense: The “necessity of speed” defense generally states that, although you were speeding, it was necessary to do so. For example, if the traffic was traveling at a speed of 70 miles per hour, you would have had no choice but to drive at the same speed to avoid an accident. This is a defense that should only be used as a last resort when nothing else succeeded.
Getting Your License Reinstated
An experienced attorney can help you to get your reckless driving charge reduced, which can also help you to retain your driver’s license after the suspension period has expired. The following are requirements for license reinstatement:
- Paying a reinstatement fee
- Providing proof of car insurance
- Providing proof of an ignition interlock device on your car, if your reckless driving charge accompanied a DUI charge
- Providing evidence of completing traffic school classes
If you receive a ticket for reckless driving, or any ticket, it should be treated seriously because the consequences can adversely affect your driving privileges and your life in general. It’s important to immediately consult with a skilled attorney who can help you get the charges reduced and your license reinstated.